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January 18, 2010
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Moses Zamora (center) getting his Veterans in Piping accelerated welding program diploma from (left) William P. Hite, general president of the United Association, and (right) Mike Arndt, director of training for the United Association.

Moses Zamora was 18 years old when he entered the Marines. During his service he has been stationed in Guam, Singapore, Kuwait, and Iraq. Near the end of his military duty, he entered the United Association’s (UA) Veterans in Piping (VIP), a 720-hour training course that assists members of the military in transitioning to civilian life and careers. The program includes 16 weeks of accelerated welding training.

“The UA is especially happy that we could help fulfill Moses’ longtime career goal,” said Mike Arndt, director of training for the United Association. “Returning veterans need to rebuild their civilian lives. We look forward to helping more heroes like Moses to enter rewarding new careers.”

Moses participated in the UA VIP Program at Camp Pendleton, Calif., and then relocated to Houston, where he joined UA Local Union (LU) 211. VIP participants usually start as second-year union apprentices, so Moses had a head start on his new career. Work performed by UA members includes installing and servicing piping systems, plumbing fixtures, and HVAC systems.

“Moses puts his all into everything he does,” said Anne St. Eloi, special representative for the United Association, who organizes the UA VIP Program. “He has a great attitude and I know he will go far in his new line of work.”

“Returning veterans like Moses make excellent employees,” said Kenneth Edwards, business manager with LU 211. “Moses is a self-starter with ambition, and he is very appreciative of everything the UA has done for him.”

“When I met Moses, he was very polite and respectful,” said Brian Edwards, business agent with LU 211. “He came to us as a second-year apprentice, which gave him priority, so we were able to put him to work right away. He’s now doing work for the Letsos Company Mechanical Contractors, one of our biggest contractors.”

Edwards noted that Moses has an ideal work ethic, thanks to his time with the Marine Corps. “Moses is a wonderful team player,” he said. “We are 100 percent behind everything that the UA VIP Program does.”

ALL-AROUND GOOD GUY

Ricky Weaver, general piping superintendent with Letsos Company Mechanical Contractors, is the one who hired Moses, and he is pleased with that decision. “Right now he’s on our special project crew,” Weaver said. “Moses picks up skills quickly and is an all-around good guy. I’d be very happy if all future apprentices had his talents and strong work ethic. When it comes to welding, that’s where he shines. He’s as good as some of the journeyman welders.”

So far Moses has worked on welding projects for malls and colleges. “I’ve worked on a lot of pipes for air conditioning systems - in Texas, the a/c runs a lot!” Moses said.

Moses is married to Celeste, 24, and has three children - son Elijah, 6, and daughters Delilah, 4, and Mariah, 2. While he enjoys welding, he doesn’t plan on doing it the rest of his life. He plans on becoming a business manager at a local union. Also, he enjoyed his training at Camp Pendleton and thinks that some day he might return to California and do training for the UA VIP Program.

PROGRAM IS IMPORTANT TO AMERICA

William P. Hite, general president of the UA, started the UA VIP program so today’s returning service members would be given the opportunity to become the welders of tomorrow. The program began in the state of Washington in late 2008. “The UA VIP program is the right thing to do,” said Hite, “since these service members have given so much to their country.”

Moses enjoyed military life and now feels that he fits right in with union life. “In military life, you didn’t always talk to higher ranking personnel,” he said. “But in the union, that isn’t a problem. Everyone is willing to help at every level, and people say, ‘If you need anything, just come and let me know.’”

Visit www.uavip.org for more information.

Publication date: 01/18/2010

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